The Boston Celtics have quickly raced out to a 2-0 series lead over the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals, as they breezed to a 126-110 victory on Thursday night in Game 2 after barely squeezing out a 133-128 overtime victory in Game 1. While the C's are getting big performances across the board, it's been tough to ignore the impact that Jrue Holiday has made in these first two games.

While Jayson Tatum got his due praise in Game 1 after he stepped up late and finished with a dominant 36-point, 12-rebound line, and Jaylen Brown led the way with 40 points in Game 2, Holiday has been in complete control on both sides of the ball through these first two games. There's no doubt that they wouldn't have won Game 1 without him, and he was just as important as Brown was in helping Boston take control of Game 2 in the first half.

Holiday hasn't always made a big impact for the C's this season, ceding the spotlight to his other star teammates, but he's been just what this team has needed all season long, and he's been particularly spectacular early on against the Pacers. Boston gave up quite a bit to land Holiday, but he continues to prove that the front office made the right move to trade for him this past offseason.

Jrue Holiday proving to be everything the Celtics hoped for

Boston Celtics guard Jrue Holiday (4) dribbles the ball against the Indiana Pacers in the first half during game two of the eastern conference finals for the 2024 NBA playoffs at TD Garden.
Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The Celtics front office made big changes over the past offseason in an effort to finally get themselves over the championship hump. Guys like Marcus Smart, Malcolm Brogdon, and Robert Williams III were sent out, and Holiday and Kristaps Porzingis were brought on board. While Porzingis' impact was much easier to see throughout the year, the same wasn't necessarily true for Holiday.

In the 2022-23 campaign with the Milwaukee Bucks, Holiday was playing some of the best basketball of his career as Giannis Antetokounmpo's running mate (19.3 PPG, 7.4 APG, 5.1 RPG, 47.9 FG%). With the Celtics this season, though, Holiday's numbers took a big step backwards due to the number of stars this team has at their disposal (12.5 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 4.8 APG, 48 FG%).

Everyone on this Celtics team has sacrificed their individual numbers in an effort to become an unstoppable force on their way to winning a title, but no one has personified that more than Holiday. He went from being an All-Star last season to arguably the team's fifth option on offense when they are fully healthy. And he hasn't complained one bit.

We all knew there would be a time this postseason when Jrue Holiday stepped up, and that time is now. Derrick White was a force early on in the postseason, but as he's gone a bit cold on offense, Holiday has come in and picked up the slack. Holiday gradually became more involved in the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Cleveland Cavaliers (13 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 3.8 APG, 51 FG%), but he's taken things to another level against Indiana.

In Game 1, Holiday was a steadying force for Boston throughout a game where their offense ran hot and cold. Holiday's final line was arguably the best of his young Celtics career (28 PTS, 8 AST, 7 REB, 10/16 FGM), and while Tatum stepped up and delivered the goods in overtime, it was Holiday (yes, and Brown) who played the biggest roles in getting the team to that spot.

Holiday's numbers in Game 2 weren't as big as they were just two nights before (15 PTS, 10 AST, 3 REB, 6/7 FGM), but he was huge in flipping the script of this game. Boston took control of this game with a 20-0 run late in the first quarter and early in the second quarter, and Holiday's fingerprints were all over it. He was finding his teammates, particularly Brown, for open looks, and burying shots when he found himself open with the ball in his hands.

On the other end of the floor, Holiday has been far and away Boston's best defender on Tyrese Haliburton, who is the engine that makes Indiana's offense run. Without Haliburton operating at his best, the Pacers have no shot of beating the C's. Holiday put the clamps on Haliburton late in Game 1, and the star guard didn't do much in Game 2 before he was forced to the locker room early with left hamstring soreness.

The hope in Boston this postseason was that the additions of guys like Holiday and Porzingis would finally yield them a title. They still have a lot of work to do, but Holiday is proving to be precisely what the Celtics needed. Whereas Smart was a sporadic option in the backcourt who mixed winning plays with infuriating stretches of offensive incompetence, Holiday is as steady as they come. The difference on the court is very hard to miss as he continues to exert his influence on both ends of the floor for the C's.

It's important to not look too far ahead, but Boston can effectively end their series against Indiana on Saturday night if they can pick up a win in Game 3. Haliburton's injury status is now the biggest storyline surrounding this game, but even if he plays, it won't matter if Holiday continues to perform at this extremely high level.

The Pacers are going to respond with their best punch in Game 3, and the Celtics are going to need to be ready for it, as they aren't going to go down easy. But this Celtics team has flexed their depth early on in this series, and Jrue Holiday has been their most unsung hero to this point. He hasn't received the recognition he deserves throughout the year, but that narrative is quickly changing as he continues to stack strong performances on top of each other as Boston inches closer and closer to their ultimate goal.